PRETORIA (Reuters) – English Premiership side Sale Sharks have signed South Africa lock Lood de Jager on a three-year deal, the first of a number of Springbok players set to move to European clubs after the World Cup in Japan.
De Jager, 26, will leave Pretoria-based Super Rugby side the Bulls either at the start of the 2019-20 Premiership season, or link up with the team after the World Cup if selected by Bok coach Rassie Erasmus.
De Jager is a near certainty to go to Japan if he can prove his fitness, having been ruled out of the remainder of the Super Rugby campaign with a shoulder injury.
“I am extremely pleased to secure the services of Lood for the 2019/20 season,” Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond said in a statement.
“He is a world-class line-out operator with lots of experience at the highest level and offers a huge physical presence around the pitch.
“Lood’s signing is a statement of intent in our endeavour to become a force in the Premiership and Europe over the next three years.”
Sale have already signed Bok players Robert du Preez (flyhalf) and Akker van der Merwe (hooker) from South African side the Sharks, with the pair to link up with their new team after the Super Rugby season if not selected to go to Japan.
A number of the Boks’ top players are set to leave Super Rugby after this season as the lure of lucrative contracts in Europe and Japan prove strong.
South Africa Rugby have also abolished a rule that stated overseas-based players must have represented the Boks on 30 or more occasions to be eligible for national team selection, as they admit defeat in trying to keep top performers at home.
(Reporting By Nick Said; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)